Recently, the CDC reported on an overnight camp outbreak in Georgia. Six days after opening, the camp closed. Here’s what happened—and what your business can do to prevent a similarly negative outcome.
The state of Georgia allowed overnight camps to operate beginning on May 3. The state required all trainees, staff members, and campers to provide documentation of a negative viral SARS-CoV-2 test ≤12 days before arriving.
The camp did this.
The camp also adopted most components of CDC’s Suggestions for Youth and Summer Camps to minimize the risk for COVID-19 introduction and transmission. Cloth masks were required for staff members. But—
The camp did not implement masks for campers nor did they open windows and doors for increased ventilation in buildings.
Camp attendees arrived on June 21 and were cohorted by cabin and engaged in a variety of indoor and outdoor activities, including daily vigorous singing and cheering. On June 23, a teenage staff member left the camp after developing chills the previous evening. The staff member was tested and reported a positive test result for SARS-CoV-2 the following day (June 24). Camp officials began sending campers home on June 24 and closed the camp on June 27.
COVID-19 essentially closed their business within a week of its opening. That’s a pretty short season.
- For the 344 campers tested (median age 12), 76% were positive
- For the 346 staff tested (median age 17), 58% were positive
- From both groups, 74% of those testing positive for COVID-19 developed symptoms
Key Business Takeaways
1. Duration of exposure means a lot. In the Georgia campground scenario, attack rates increased with increasing length of time spent at the camp, with staff members having the highest attack rate (56%).
2. Proximity matters. Someone walking past you is less of an exposure risk than someone sitting in the same room, sharing a car ride, and so on.
3. Air circulation may be a secret weapon. What might happen if you installed fans so that infectious aerosols couldn’t concentrate? The CDC recommendation for opening windows and doors for increased ventilation in buildings, which was not followed in this situation, reduces risk significantly.
4. Where community transmission is present, you aren’t likely to escape infection. What you can do is to procure on-site testing with fast turnaround. Testing can be part of a comprehensive strategy that keeps the damage to a minimum.